Some perspective on opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline and the energy from Canadian oil sands the pipeline would deliver to U.S. refiners. Politicians and activists bad-mouthing the latest environmental review of the pipeline project by the State Department are taking issue with three impact assessments, not just one.
Last week's report reiterated environmental reviews in April 2010 and this past April. The government now has said three times that the 1,700-mile pipeline would pose only minimal environmental risk during construction and operation.
Those who don't like the message went after the messenger. "By concluding that the pipeline will have minimal environmental impact, absent the expert opinion from our government's wildlife experts, it appears that the State Department has not taken a comprehensive look at the potential impacts of this project to our nation's most vulnerable wildlife," said U.S. Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass. "I am disappointed that after numerous Congressional letters and serious concerns from the environmental community the State Department has failed once again to adequately assess the real environmental impact of the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline," said Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn.
"Comprehensive look"? "Failed ... to adequately assess"? One more time: State has done three separate environmental reviews. Next month it will have been three years since TransCanada, the proposed pipeline's builder, asked for U.S. permission to start the project. Concerns don't equal facts, and opinions aren't reality. Questions have been raised - and answered.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is scheduled to make a final decision on the Keystone XL by the end of the year. Clinton should consider the facts - on energy (830,000 barrels of oil per day in a few years), jobs (10,000 U.S. jobs immediately, 85,000 by 2020) and the environment (see above) - in making her decision. Former State Department energy official David Goldwyn thinks she'll approve the project, telling Platts Energy Week that jobs, energy security and our partnership with Canada will tip the balance in the pipeline's favor. "I think the case for the pipeline is overwhelming and she'll approve it," Goldwyn said.It's a mainstream analysis shared by syndicated columnist Robert Samuelson, who writes the United States would be "crazy" to turn its back on Canadian energy by rejecting the Keystone XL:
"In a global oil market repeatedly threatened by wars, revolutions, and natural and man-made disasters -- and where government-owned oil companies control development of about three-quarters of known reserves -- having dependable suppliers is no mean feat. ... The U.S. and Canada are each other's largest trading partners and closest allies. Oil markets are subtly changing, as more countries -- led by China -- seek preferential access to scarce global supplies. In the future, security of supply may matter as much as price. The more we can reduce oil demand and increase supply stability, the better off we'll be. On oil sands, we should just say 'yes.'"